Twofer: Dinner and dessert

Tonight was a pasta night.  It happens quite a bit, usually in the form of an easy microwave dinner or just some pre-made in a jar sauce with noddles.  Nothing fancy but nothing creative either.  I decided to forgo the stables and do something new.

The menu?  Pasta with an easy creamy garlic sauce that I found on this blog and a quick, microwave dessert that’s a bit of a stable for me when I want something sweet and fruity.  I will say this about the menu…  wait a bit before going from your garlic sauce to your apple dessert.  It doesn’t always go well together right away.

Let’s break it down.

The sauce wasn’t too difficult to make and I say this as being a person who cannot make a savory sauce or gravy right to save her life.  Desserts?  No problem.  Savory?  Apparently it doesn’t work in my brain.  That being said, I’ve watched enough cooking shows to believe I could handle this, and you know what?  I did.  What I will say, however, was that I did have to change things up a bit…as usual.

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

The recipe on the site calls for a tablespoon of butter, finely chopping garlic and three tablespoons flour (among other things, you’ll have to check the website out to see what).  I didn’t have fresh garlic (boo) so I used the minced stuff which is probably what changed things for me.  My mixture ended up too dry before I added the milk to the mix.  So I hurried and put in another tablespoon of butter, which seemed to help and worked the milk into the mix.  I do think I will cut back on the flour in the future and add more salt, otherwise, the quick save did the trick.

Now, to top it off, and because I’m a sucker for cheese (forget mold allergies, I love my cheese!), I sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese on top, a bit of dried (wish I had fresh) parsley (I’m on a parsley kick), and some cherry tomatoes.  I turned out rather tasty.  It wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked and fresh garlic is probably what would have made this so I’ll give it ago another time when I have it in the house, but for a quick and easy pasta sauce?  It’s a keeper.

On to dessert.  I’m a fan of microwave desserts since I’m just one person.  It makes it easy to stop at one serving.  What I love even more are apples.  I can eat apples till I’m too stuffed to eat.  Just ask anyone who has worked with me at Greenfield Village at Firestone Farm during apple harvest.  Apples, love them!

My favorite thing to do is to add some sugar, both brown and white (I love the flavor mix of the two with an apple), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to a chopped apple.  Always taste your apple to check the sweetness, etc.  Every apple breed is different and that changes your ratio of sugar to spices.  I’ll admit, I had a sweet apple and might have added a bit too much sugar (ha!), but I got excited.

Spiced apples with ice cream

Spiced apples with ice cream

Microwave those apples with your spices and sugar for about 1 minute.  I always do spurts of 30 seconds just to be sure.  Then I crumble up some graham crackers or vanilla wafers (preferred) and top it off with just a small scoop or two of french vanilla bean ice cream.  It warms the belly and really isn’t as bad for you as a good slice of chocolate cake, which is a winner in my book.

All in all… not a bad meal.  A typical meal, but a pretty good one.

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The Art of Scrap Cookies

Whew, I’ve been a busy girl.  Not busy enough that I’m not making new things each week, but just busy enough to let updates and posts slip off the to-do list.  I’ll be better about it.

This time, I have a cookie to write about and a lovely, little cookie to boot.  It’s a mix of period recipe and my own little tweaking and I’m quite proud of the result.  It tastes like a little vanilla wafer, smooth and not overly sweet, so that means you can eat a couple without sugar overload.  At least in taste.

These little wafers are so light and sharp that they'll probably be my go-to 'sugar' cookie

These little wafers are so light and sharp that they’ll probably be my go-to ‘sugar’ cookie

Technically, they are called “Scrap-Art” Cookies but I played around and added lemon juice and a very good drop of honey into the mix since the note in the recipe said that it could be dry, the dough.  My solution was to add a hint more liquid and it worked beautifully.  They rolled out nicely and baked up beautifully.

So here’s the recipe:  (note: with period recipes, standardization of measuring is a later invention, so pick a cup that’s going to represent your cup and use that as a base… something on the smaller size because I guarantee these recipes make A LOT)

1 cup butter
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2.5 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Large drop of honey.

You’ll cream the butter, egg, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and honey together.  Then add your dry ingredients.  Chill in the frig like you would for sugar cookies.  I chilled them for about an hour.  Roll thin and cut into shapes or circles with a cup.  For fun, I added one chocolate chip to the middle.

Brownie Pie

Whew, busy and crazy week, no?  But I’m finally getting around to the brownie pie I made last Sunday… and later today I’ll get something up about some yummy period biscuits that are great for soup days.

A brownie pie is just that: a brownie in a pie crust.  It’s not exactly a new revelation but I can honestly say that I thought to toss it together before I went looking to see if there were any legit recipes for it.  Turns out there are plenty but they are all pretty much the same, so don’t worry about that.

You can see my squished side there...whoops...

You can see my squished side there…whoops…

My original plan was to make a graham cracker crust but the danger of keeping graham crackers in the house are that they get eaten before you can make a crust but that’s alright.  Another time maybe.  With that out of the equation, I threw together my basic sweet crust and halved it to just make the bottom part of the pie.  Some recipes have you bake the crust before baking the brownie but I baked them together and actually think it turned out better than if I had just baked the crust first.

Once the pie crust was done, I threw together the brownie recipe from the first post I made on this blog.  I want to try another, healthier recipe but when grocery day is the next day you don’t have all those healthy substitutes on hand, but that’s alright.  Brownie pie doesn’t lend itself to healthy eating but it is delicious.

Soft and goodie on the inside and the pie crust just frames it nicely.  No lost crumbs.

Soft and goodie on the inside and the pie crust just frames it nicely. No lost crumbs.

Bake it for the length of the brownie, though about 15 minutes in, put some foil around your pie edges so that they don’t burn…just don’t squish down your lovely crust like I did…equally on both sides so at least they were symmetrical.  Ah well, tastes the same right? In the end you have a lovely pie that’s moist and would do wonderfully with some fruit topping.

Something-For-Everyone Cake

This is the second dessert I made for the family.  Everyone seems to like a different type of cake so I set out to please everyone and came up with this.  It’s a decadent dessert and no where near as healthy as my latest attempts at dessert but now and then, you just need to blow all that healthy eating out of the  water, am I right?  It isn’t for everyday so that’s okay.  Plus, I did substitute eggs for egg whites, that’s something, right?

from what I remember for the midnight cake: 2c brown sugar, 1/2c butter, 2 eggs, 2 oz chocolate, 1c coffee, 2 c flour, vanilla... I think...

from what I remember for the midnight cake: 2c brown sugar, 1/2c butter, 2 eggs, 2 oz chocolate, 1c coffee, 2 c flour, vanilla, 1/2c milk with soda dissolved in it… I think…

It’s a layer cake, one white and one chocolate.  It’s also a cake of something old and something new.  The white cake is the recipe from a previous post, so nothing new there.  The bottom layer is a cake recipe from one of the period cookbooks we use on the farm at Greenfield Village called Midnight Cake.  I can’t remember if it is from the Buckeye or Mrs. Owen’s, but both are free on Google Playbooks, and I recommend adding them to your library.  It’s a dense, rich farm cake, so beware of that and I usually use it as a ‘brownie’ when at home (since I get the dense/heavy complaint when I mention it’s a cake).  I’d post the recipe but I worry about copyright, so I’m just going to point you in the direction of those two books and if you MUST have it, let me know and I’ll try to privately message you about it.  It is, basically at its heart, a chocolate cake.

I did put quite the layer of frosting on this puppy

I did put quite the layer of frosting on this puppy

Now the center, I used my pudding/cool whip mix and made it up in the sugar free white chocolate style to use in the center of both of these cakes.  Next time I might use it for the whole of the cake as well since I’m liking it better than buttercream these days…which is what the rest of the cake is frosted in.  Good news is that a whole recipe of buttercream frosting is more than enough to cover a two layer, round cake.

You can see the density of the two types of cake: the modern verse the victorian

You can see the density of the two types of cake: the modern verse the victorian

It’s definitely a cake you only need a small slice of but it does hit everyone’s sweet spot.

One Minute Buttermilk Mug Cake

Just as promised, here is the second post of the day.

I have a dessert problem and I have no intention of fixed it, though I have every intention of making it as healthy as possible and thus my search begins.  For a quick dessert without a ton of it left over, I went to Pinterest and found myself a one-minute mug of cake recipe to give a try and the good news?  It was fairly healthy, yay!

My little cake pancake

My little cake pancake

The original was made for a chocolate version, and then I found one that added some instant coffee which I will be trying very soon.  I, however, was not in the mood for chocolate.  Shocking!  So, trying a little experimentation, I decided to forgo the cocoa powder in this recipe and substitute it with flour, and then use low fate buttermilk instead of 2% milk, which according to their labels, is the same about calorie-wise.

The result is a tasty little treat that’s dense (I find that buttermilk cakes are like that but that’s alright with me) and pretty flavorful.  I’d like to try this out with flavor extracts and see what happens but for a one minute, microwave cake?  I’ll take it.  Plus, it allowed me to play with applesauce as a replacement for oil/eggs that’s so popular on pinterest right now.  The applesauce flavor is ever so faint in this and I almost wonder if I can’t make it more pronounced.  Hmmm.  Food for thought.

Oh, and I’d probably make it in a smaller mug so it didn’t end up so pancake flat like…

This is my modification of the original:

4 tbsp + 2 tsp flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
3 tsp applesauce
3 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients well, then add in the wet and stir.  Bake in the microwave for about 40-50 seconds depending on your wattage.

White Cake Success!

I made yet another attempt at a homemade cake using a difference recipe I found that was based on making cupcakes for a small 9×9 size cake.  Personally, I like that size cake for everyday eating.  It always seems like it goes on and on when you make a bit sheet size if you are only making it for your immediate family.  Of course, this is based on a smaller sized family and not one with tons of kids running about.

Nice and fluffy!

Nice and fluffy!

The recipe was pretty straight forward but I was still worried it would be really dense.  I like a dense cake, having them at Greenfield Village has trained me to really like them.  More cake for your buck really but the family doesn’t seem to like them as much.  For that, I blame box cake mixes entirely.  Homemade cakes are going to be denser than that box stuff and while I won’t discount a box mix for some things, making it all from scratch is so much better.

I did change up some things in the recipe to try and make it a bit fluffier.  I read that using egg whites instead of eggs helps with that, but being a new recipe to me, I kept one egg and then substituted the other egg for two egg whites.  Another change I made came out of necessity.  I looked at the flour bag and thought I would have just enough.  I did not, but my mother suggested I use the pancake mix on hand since I was in a pinch.  It was only 1/2 cup but I think that also helped with the fluffiness of the cake and punched up the flavor just a bit.  I will probably keep this change since the cake did come out nicer than before.

Not going to lie, that's some rich frosting.

Not going to lie, that’s some rich frosting.

To top it all off, I made some buttercream frosting.  I always shied away from it because of the amount of sugar, but my other frosting attempts were not going over big.  They wanted something closer to those canned frostings so voila.  I whipped it up a bit longer and kept it lighter but overall, I liked it.  I will definitely go back to it.

The white cake was a success and I’m thinking I may use it for Easter as a layer cake with a white chocolate ganache in the center.

Chicken Pot Pie and Apple Pie Bites for One

For whatever reason, I was craving pot pie yesterday, maybe that has something to do with The Chew and having a show devoted to pies. Curse them and their making me crave certain things.  Luckily, my mother was cooking up a chicken for dinner, so I was able to be a little scavenger and snag a bit of it for my own, personal pot pie (they, apparently, did not have the same cravings that I did).

Isn't that little dish adorable.  Only cost me a buck at Target.

Isn’t that little dish adorable. Only cost me a buck at Target.

I made a very, very basic pie dough of flour, butter, salt and water.  For savory pies, I like my crust very basic so that everything else does the talking.  Now, I didn’t make a full batch, only a half batch since I just wanted the top of my pie.  This meant I had left overs to make my little dessert which I’ll talk about after this.

All warm and inviting.

All warm and inviting.

Inside, I used that cup o’ soup creamy chicken for the gravy, making it over the stove and adding to it, onions, half a potato and some carrots.  In that, I tossed some parsley and rosemary to punch up the spices in the quick soup mix.  It made up pretty thick and creamy for the pie, though I would add some salt and pepper to it next time.  With that, I layered in my chicken breast and a hard boiled egg, much like my grown-up pot pie recipes.  It turned out nicely, though very dense so even my little single serve was a bit much for me.

Cute little slices.  Perfect for dipping, I would think

Cute little slices. Perfect for dipping, I would think

Now onward to dessert.  Like I said, I had some extra dough that I couldn’t bring myself to just toss, and I had one, lonely apple left.  I simple took a cup, cut out little circles and mixed up some apple pie filling with the sliced apple.  They were very small but very nice with just a touch of ice cream, especially when they’re hot.  I don’t always like a super large dessert, so this was perfect.

A little ice cream and we're set.

A little ice cream and we’re set.

All in all, it was a heart meal and didn’t use up too many resources, which I like.  You don’t need to make a big batch of something to make something comforting.